We Brits seem to be infamous for our binge drinking. Friday night in the UK is the night when everyone makes the most of it, though it’s kind of an unwritten rule there that you do not drink on a school night. Perhaps this is the reason why Brits gets so excited to go all in on Fridays.
My first island life experience was in the British Virgin Islands and I was shocked and appalled when people would suggest drinking on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. Thursdays weren’t so bad to me because it was almost the weekend… but seriously – you’re going to drink on a Monday night? Yes, that they were. And quite possibly they’d be drinking by Monday lunchtime too.
Pretty soon, I was fitting right in, sometimes partaking in a drink starting Monday at lunch and then carrying on into the night. Before I began joining in, one older American woman that I met (who chain smoked and drank copious amounts of red wine every single day) viewed me with a kind of disdain and drawled, “It’s so cheap, what else are ya gonna do here but smoke it up and sip it up.” It didn’t take me long to get into the swing of things. Then, whenever I’d be back in the UK and would suggest going out for a drink, I’d be met with the same kind of horror and disbelief I once possessed – We can’t go for a drink tonight… it’s only Monday!
Once we moved to the Seychelles, we found that alcohol was a lot more expensive. We had to become more discerning drinkers there, so we favoured the local beer, Seybrew. There was one occasion when the entire island ran out of beer and to this day, my husband will not divulge how he obtained entire crates of Seybrew when no one else on the island could get their hands on so much as a bottle. The bars were empty that day as everyone was coming round our apartment instead; word quickly spread that we were the only ones who magically had vast amounts of Seybrew on hand.
When going to live in on our next island, Zanzibar, we were a bit concerned what the alcohol situation would be, as it is stressed to be a predominantly Muslim country. However, we were delighted to find that the drinking habits were pretty much the same as every other rock we’d ever been on and we were soon welcomed into the local bars which were mostly nothing more than huts on the side of the road. Their beer was cheap and such is their love of beer that they even have a monument made entirely of empty beer bottles proudly erected at the entrance of one of their beaches.
Now that we’re living on the island of Bahrain, drinking laws are much stricter. Here, only certain areas sell alcohol in hotel bars and not one supermarket sells so much as a dram! My husband had been here for a few months before I joined him and his priority had been doing a “reckie” to find out where the best bars were. He also managed to discover the only off-license on the island. We’ve come across expats who have lived here for years and they still didn’t know of the existence of an off-license. This is one of the many reasons why, when first landing on an island, we befriend the local people first and gain a wealth of insider knowledge.
The most confounding thing I have seen in a bar so far in Bahrain was a statuesque woman walking into the bar alone wearing full hijab and veil. She sat herself in a corner, removed the hijab and veil, threw back her beautiful black hair, stretched out her long jean-clad legs, and sank 5 or 6 Bacardi Breezers whilst smoking a full pack of cigarettes. After a couple of hours, she re-dressed herself in hijab and veil and glided out of the bar.
We island girls are all only human after all.
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What is the drinking lifestyle like on your island?